Men's Lax, Now Ranked 17th Nationally, Opens Season 3-0 with Hard-Fought NESCAC Wins over Williams & Hamilton, Demolition of Lasell
David Murphy '15 (#15, main photo) caught a centering pass from low on the left by Quentin DellaFera '15 and scored from eight yards out from a slight angle to the right with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter to rally homestanding Wesleyan past Williams, 7-6, in the season and NESCAC opener for both squads Sat., March 9. It also was the opening Little Three game of the year as Wesleyan looks to defend its title.
The game featured four distinct scoring streaks, the final one going Wesleyan's way as the Cardinals netted the final four goals to erase a 6-3 deficit with 25 minutes left in the game. Williams had overcome a 3-2 Wesleyan lead after the first quarter by pumping home four goals of its own, two in each of the second and third periods for its three-goal cushion. Williams also opened the game with a pair of goals just 5:03 into the contest. Wesleyan countered with the next three from Mike Giambanco '14, Graham Macnab '14 and Aidan Daniell '14 to hold a one-goal margin heading in the second quarter before Williams assumed a 4-3 halftime edge.
After the Ephs pushed the lead to 6-3 at 10:53 of the third period, Wesleyan got a pair back off the sticks of Christian Kennedy '14 and Murphy to make it a 6-5 game heading into the final stanza.
A quick shot from the middle by Remy Lieberman '14 (#13, photo insert upper right, courtesy of Mitch Lieberman P'14) after a centering pass by Murphy knotted the score at 6-6 with 12:48 left. Each team had scoring chances over the next 11 minutes but failed to convert until Murphy got his second goal of the game for the winner, giving him three points for the day.
Williams won the ensuing faceoff, the ninth victory for the Ephs over the final 11 faceoffs after Jeff Giocondi '13 had won the opening six faceoffs for the Cardinals. Thus the Ephs had possession with a chance to tie. But Wesleyan long-pole middie Kevin Campbell '15 forced a Williams turnover and defender Elliot Albert '14 got the ground ball, his fifth of the game as he and Sam Stanton '13 tied for the team lead. Wesleyan then did a stellar job of running off the final 35 seconds in the offensive zone to seal the victory.
Wesleyan had a 37-26 edge in shots and led 31-27 in ground balls. Mark Simmons '14 posted seven saves in the Cardinal net.
Wesleyan was right back on the field Sun., March 10 with another home NESCAC contest against Hamilton. Trailing 3-0 after 10:11 of play, Wesleyan went on to score 11 of the next 12 goals over a span of 33:48 to pull out to a substantial 11-4 lead over Hamilton en route to a 12-6 victory.
An 8-0 Wesleyan run from the 2:31 mark of the second period to the 1:01 mark of the third quarter, a passage of 16:30 off the clock, sealed the triumph as Hamilton last led, 4-3, before the burst began. A man-advantage goal by Matt Prezioso '15, who scored twice in the game, off a feed from Lieberman evened the count at 4-4 late in the second period. The Hamilton goalie had gotten possession of the ball and attempted to throw the ball downfield but the ball came out of his stick deep in his own end. Lieberman collared the loose ball and found Prezioso open on the left and he fired a bouncer through the Continental defense into the open goal. Wesleyan got two more before the end of the stanza from Lieberman, who had a hat trick, and Giambanco, to put the Cardinals ahead, 6-4, at intermission.
Wesleyan added five goals in the third period as Lieberman completed his hat trick along with goals from Sam Stanton '13, who ran three-quarters of the field after recovering a ground ball and scored with a low shot, Stephen Todd '15 on another fast break, and long-pole Brendan Hanley '13 just 12 seconds after the 10th Wesleyan goal by Lieberman. Wesleyan faceoff specialist Giocondi won 11 of 17 tries in the game. Wesleyan's two goals in the first period, by Kennedy and Macnab, also came 12 seconds apart after a Giocondi faceoff win. That made the score 3-2. Wesleyan tied it at 3-3 at 12:04 of the second period on Daniell's long shot from the left after catching a long cross-field pass from Hanley. Hamilton regained the lead at 8:05 with a quick shot in front.
Giocondi paced Wesleyan in grounders with eight. Simmons collected 12 saves in the contest for a .667 save percentage on the day.
Wesleyan has defeated Hamilton each of the three times the teams have met.
Wesleyan returned to action Wed., March 13 with a home non-conference game vs. Lasell. Playing for the first time in a dozen years and for only the third time ever, Wesleyan came away with a resounding 18-1 decision. Wesleyan travels to NESCAC rival Bates Sat., March 16 for its next encounter. The game will have both a webcast and LiveStats
Wesleyan got four goals and an assist from Macnab as 12 different Cardinals found the net in the contest with Ian Vasquez '14 adding two goals and two assists while Presioso had a goal and two assists. Wesleyan had all 44 of its healthy players see action on the contest.
Wesleyan scored four goals in a span of 2:46 in the middle of the first period for a 4-0 lead and held an 8-0 advantage at halftime. A pair of goals 35 second apart in the third period made it 10-0 with 9:09 remaining in the frame. Two more tallies in a 1:05 span pushed the margin to 12-0 before Lasell got its lone marker at 3:41 of the third period. Wesleyan tacked on six more goals in the fourth quarter for the final score.
Wesleyan generated a 59-26 edge in shots and had 38 ground balls to 21 by the Lasers. The Cardinals also won 13 of 21 faceoffs with Jasper Kubasek '14 winning eight of 12.
Wesleyan's three goalies combined for five saves with Simmons starting and making two in 26 minutes of work. Justin Schick '14 played 15 minutes and yielded the Laser goal while JD Dieterich '13 handled the final 19 minutes, making three saves.